Coming right out of the gate, this post is very uncomfortable and slightly embarrassing for me to write. But as I’ve started this blog and seen it start to take shape, I’ve come to realize that God is using vulnerability and transparency for His purposes. So, at the risk of what I feel is embarrassment, I want to share what God has been at work with these past few weeks.
If you haven’t guessed by the title, a little over a week ago I was demoted at work. Now when this initially happened, I thought I was only going to tell a handful of people close to me and that I would just tell everyone else I was simply moving into a different position at work. I work as an administrator and am being moved from a director/executive level to a division level. However, a couple days ago, God prodded me to be bold, chuck what people think of me out the window, and share this very difficult yet remarkable story.
Almost a year ago I received a promotion at work, one that finally afforded me the finances I need to move out on my own (thanks to the weight of paying my student loans). Unfortunately, the person who I was backfilling left shortly after I was hired and thus I received almost no training. I have, for the last 11 months, spent my time in my job feeling completely overwhelmed and knowing that I was constantly dropping the ball. I am the ONLY administrator in our directorate while every other area has at least two and some have as many as five administrators. I say all this for perspective, not sympathy. I wanted to do a good job. But after months of feeling like things were piling up and never feeling like I was going to get a system down that worked well, I hit mental block after mental block and just wanted to give up. I knew I was letting people down and felt so defeated about it. My Director even admitted that my position was probably the most difficult admin job in the building because of the amount of responsibility and the lack of additional support.
All that being said, a week ago my boss (I work as a contractor) came to me and told me they had “lost confidence” in my ability to do the job and that I would be moving down to a lower level. I cannot say that I was surprised because I had had a conversation with my Director the week prior about my performance lacking, but I was hoping I would have more time to try and improve. But it seems that was not the case. About twenty minutes after my meeting with my boss, my Director called me into her office and we sat down for a chat. In retrospect, the next hour+ was rather remarkable considering. I had just been told I was demoted because I wasn’t doing a good job; I wasn’t even doing “the” job, at least not in its entirety. But…in that hour time with my Director, I had one of the most impressionable moments of my career to date. I told her that I knew I wasn’t the right fit for that position, at least not under the circumstances and that I would rather there be someone in that chair that would help their organization run smoothly than me fight for my pride. She was astonished and impressed (her words). I told her that I did not take it personally but rather that I appreciated the time that I had with her as my boss, and the job itself for the experience it was. She had been the best boss and leader that I ever worked under and I told her such. She appreciates her people and rather than trying for personal success, she looks for ways to help her people succeed…even if that meant demoting someone because they had too much on their plate. She continued to praise that she was so incredibly impressed with my composure and how I was handling the situation given it had just happened and I hadn’t “cooled off”. But I was just being honest…and then I realized that we weren’t the only two people in that room.
We began talking about my life goals and what I’m really passionate about. We talked about how to find that “spot of excellence” or my sweet spot for my career. And as we did, I began to share with her my passion for student ministries and working with young women. How my desire is to write and then to share with women that there is a God who loves them. That God loves me and pursues me and is my friend and provides for me. That I’m not a feminist, but I am for women. That Jesus was FOR WOMEN. It was women who discovered his empty tomb. It was women, harlots, that he went to with love and compassion and told them their worth and value when no one else would. It was a young woman that God used to bring the Savior of the world into this world. The Holy Spirit was in that room as she and I talked about what was important to me…He was using me to show His character and love. At the end of our conversation (and tears) we hugged and embraced the fact that we could now progress in a more personal friendship since she was no longer my direct report in my professional world. As I left the room with the compliment of being a true class act… I had a lot to process. At that moment I felt true joy at what had just happened in that room…however, it would be the next day that the emotions and lies would set in about the situation itself.
The next morning was pretty awful. I sent a text asking for prayer from my bible study, called my mom, and cried all the way to work. I felt like the world’s biggest failure. I had failed. I wasn’t being lazy (although I had often lost motivation due to sheer mental exhaustion). It wasn’t that I didn’t know how to do the job. I just couldn’t get all the parts moving in the right way. I wanted time to try and get it right. But time had run out and I had failed. I let everyone down. And now I had to go in and train my replacement, of whom would also be training me as we were switching jobs. I had to face people that I worked with and people she worked with in total humiliation at the fact that we were switching positions, hers was a promotion, and so there was only one option left for what it meant for me. The last three days at work have been extremely hard thinking that people probably think I am idiot or at least incompetent; to know in a gossip pit, my name is probably going to be drug through the mud; that my new bosses probably think I can’t do the job. When Julie (my replacement) and I went around introducing ourselves to our new folks, they would pry and ask why we are switching. Our response has been that “they just wanted us to get experience in different areas.” I’m sure it’s not fooling a lot of people.
Now, to some this might seem like such a trivial thing. To some, they might think “been there, done that”. But for someone who is trying to find her spot in a professional world and highly values character and hard work, the thought of those things being slung through the mud–is mortifying. As Julie and I began training each other I realized how much work I really was doing, how much information I had, and how much responsibility was really being taken away from me. And then…God turned on the spotlight.
Pride. I had, without realizing it, put so much pride and identity into my job and what I did. As difficult as my job was, I put pride and value into the fact that I was the only one who did what I did. I put pride in the fact that I was “rubbing elbows” so to speak with the Directors/Executives and Command at my job; that they knew who I was. I had put so much pride and my identity in my job and the position I was in that God decided it was time to strip me of it. This has also forced me to throw out the window caring what people think of me….which for a people pleaser is not an easy task. He also reminded me (and encouraged me through people) that He was at work. You see not only did my bosses fight for me to keep my same salary, but Julie, my replacement, she goes to my church. So I’m sitting hours a day training next to, not only a Sister in Christ, but one who goes to my church and knows my family!! What a thing to know the person being blessed with the promotion of my job, is part of my home church! And I have a very valuable person, both now personally and professionally, in my corner in my Director. God, and only God, gave me grace to handle this situation with dignity and poise and to, as my Pastor put, leave well. I left well. And that is going to make a bigger impact than I think I know.
I wasn’t demoted for lack of character. My demotion has only improved my character. Character is the thing that God spends our entire lives molding and shaping so that it can be a mirror image of his. We are born in the image of God, the image of Christ and as a follower of Christ I am called be like him in my character. Even as I continue to struggle to let go and let God, he reminds me that He is in control, He is FOR ME, and He has a plan. My identity is not in what I do. My importance and value is not in my job or my title or the people that I associate with. Jesus, he hung out with the sinners, with the tax collectors, the most reviled people in his time. The people that Jesus spent his time with, weren’t the noblemen of the day but rather the poor and the uneducated. I’m still learning. I’m still struggling. But God is at work and He is good and He’s using this…for His glory, not mine. And for His glory…I know it’s worth it!
Knowing God has a purpose and plan, I look forward to sharing where God takes me in the coming months through all of this because He DOES love, He IS proud of me, He IS providing, and I don’t have to fear or be anxious for any of it. I can rest in Him knowing that my God, what HE thinks of me…He thinks the world of me because He gave me His Son, who died for this world! And His opinion is the only one that really matters!